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Influenza (Flu)

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At least 20 million people, died in the 1918 influenza pandemic. You're especially at risk if you are an older adult, have diabetes, chronic cardiovascular or lung disease, or an impaired immune system.


Unless you're at risk of complications from influenza, your doctor may suggest nothing more than bed rest and plenty of fluids, so you don't become dehydrated. But in some cases, he or she may also prescribe an antiviral medication, such as:

  • Neuraminidase inhibitors. These drugs, which treat both influenza A and B, work by inactivating an enzyme the virus needs to grow and spread. Zanamivir (Relenza) may shorten the amount of time you have the flu by a day or two and may also cut the risk of flu within a family when one family member is infected. Relenza is inhaled through a device similar to an asthma inhaler every 12 hours for five days. It's not for use by anyone with respiratory conditions such as asthma and lung disease. Side effects may include nose and throat discomfort, headache and cough. Another drug, oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is available in pill form. It may also shorten the duration of the flu by a day or so.

  • Oral antiviral medications. Drugs such as amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine) may reduce the severity and duration of type A — but not type B — influenza if you take them within 48 hours after symptoms begin. But these medications may have serious side effects, including nausea, nightmares and convulsions. Taking lower doses of the drugs may reduce side effects.

None of these drugs are useful if you've waited too long to see your doctor for a prescription, however. And if they're not taken as recommended, there's a chance that drug-resistant influenza may develop.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.



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